By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Smackdown on USA Network
Aired live on March 5, 2019 from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania at Mohegan Sun Arena
[Hour One] Smackdown opened with a memorial graphic for the late King Kong Bundy… The broadcast team was Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton, and the ring announcer was Greg Hamilton…
WWE Champion Daniel Bryan and Rowan made their entrance. Bryan stood in the ring and the motioned to the big screen. A video package recapped last week’s contract signing that resulted in Vince McMahon replacing Kofi Kingston with Kevin Owens in the WWE Championship match at WWE Fastlane.
Bryan said he sat in the ring in silence last week as Stephanie McMahon, Shane McMahon, and the fans gushed over Kingston. He said he also remained silent when Vince McMahon replaced Kingston with Owens. Bryan said it’s his turn to speak and told the fans to be silent. Rowan told the fans to shut up because Bryan was about to enlighten us all.
A loud “Kofi” chant broke out. Bryan said Kingston is not a leader, he’s a supporting player, which is where he should be – on a promotional tour of India with the other New Day members. Bryan said Vince replaced a man who throws out copious amounts of pancakes with a man who eats copious amounts of pancakes.
Bryan said the fans like Owens because he is just like them. He said Owens looks and thinks like the fans, and he does not deserve a title shot “because Kevin Owens is a nobody.” Bryan said Owens is dangerous because he has nothing to lose. Bryan said he has everything to lose because he is the planet’s champion.
Kevin Owens’ music interrupted Bryan and he walked onto the stage with a mic in hand. Owens walked to the ring as he spoke about how he watched every Raw and Smackdown with his family. He said as great as the time off with his family was, it was hard to sit back and watch other people do what he loves to do. Owens said it was awful to watch Bryan act like he was better than everyone else.
Owens recalled Bryan throwing the WWE Championship in the trash. Bryan said that’s where it belonged. Owens said that moment made him realize who he was going after when he returned. Owens said Bryan deserves to have his “stupid, condescending mouth shut and I’m the one to do it.” Bryan said Owens should be worried about his own mouth and the things that he and the fans shove down their throats. Owens asked if this was the educated Bryan resorting to low brow fat jokes. “Yeah,” Bryan replied.
Owens asked if Bryan thinks he’s better because he buys organic carrots. Bryan asked who was low brow now. Owens said that if Bryan says he’s just like the people because they think he’s a pretentious jackass then, yep, he’s just like the people. Owens mocked Bryan for having Rowan with him. Bryan said it’s only because Owens doesn’t have any friends left. Owens said he lost his friends and that’s his fault, but he didn’t need anyone to help when he gave Bryan a Stunner and pinned him.
Owens said he never meant to take Kingston’s spot, but it is his intention to beat Bryan at Fastlane and to take the title from him. Rowan stepped up and got in the face of Owens, who ended up hitting him. Rowan charged at Owens, who held down the top rope, causing Rowan to tumble to the floor. Bryan and Owens fought. Rowan recovered and grabbed Owens by the head and slammed him to the mat…
The broadcast team hyped R-Truth’s open challenge for the U.S. Title… A shot aired of Shane McMahon firing up The Miz for his match against Jey Uso for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: A decent opening segment. The program with Owens and Bryan was rushed, presumably because they are saving Bryan vs. Kingston for WrestleMania. I like the decision because Kingston is the most popular guy on Smackdown, but I hope it doesn’t damage Owens’s run as a babyface. By the way, I’m filling in for Jake Barnett tonight. He will be writing the Smackdown Hit List tomorrow.
The Usos made their entrance for Jey’s match against The Miz. They delivered an in-ring promo and mocked the idea of Miz and Shane McMahon being “the best tag team in the world.” Jimmy said he didn’t think he could take more of the Miz and Shane bromance, and mocked Shane for jumping from high places.
The Miz and Shane made their entrance. Shane said he and Miz have passion and emotion and wear their hearts on their sleeve, but that’s what makes them the best tag team in the world. Miz told Jey that if he loses focus for a second he will beat him. Miz said he and Shane have a second chance in his hometown. Miz said he will make Shane and his dad proud. The Usos went after Shane and Miz, who quickly cleared them from the ring… [C]
1. Jey Uso (w/Jimmy Uso) vs. The Miz (w/Shane McMahon). The match started during the commercial break. Miz went for a clothesline in the corner. Jey ducked the clothesline and caught Miz in a backslide for two. Miz came right back with a DDT for a two count. Jimmy got involved from ringside, and Shane ran over and clotheslined him. Jey turned his focus to what was happening at ringside, and The Miz caught him with the Skull Crushing Finale for the win…
The Miz defeated Jey Uso.
Powell’s POV: Forgettable final hype for the Smackdown Tag Title match at Fastlane in that didn’t make me want to see the match any more or less than I did before tonight’s show.
Backstage, Kayla Braxton interviewed Charlotte Flair, who asked if Smackdown was missing the presence “of my best friend” Becky Lynch. Flair invited Lynch to appear. Flair recalled the stipulations that Stephanie gave their Fastlane match, then said she wants to have a friendly discussion with Lynch… R-Truth and Carmella made their entrance… [C]
R-Truth said he wants to be just like his hero John Cena, but he didn’t realize Cena issued an open challenge every single week. Truth said he had one open challenge and he’s already exhausted. Carmella recalled Cena saying that you can never give up. Truth said Cena also said you can’t see him, but he sees him all the time on his bedroom poster, bed sheets, and even in a movie about a car that was also an alien robot. They took a seven-second dance break.
Truth announced that the open challenge would begin now. Lacey Evans did her runway walk. “Come back, Mr. Sexy Glove,” Truth said. “Yeah, she didn’t want none.” Truth was hoping that counted as his open challenge, but Carmella told him that the fans wanted to see him defend his title. “Damn, you, John Cena,” Truth said. Samoa Joe made his entrance. Rey Mysterio followed and then so did Andrade. Greg Hamilton delivered introductions for a four-way match for the U.S. Title… [C]
2. R-Truth (w/Carmella) vs. Samoa Joe vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Andrade (w/Zelina Vega) in a four-way for the U.S. Championship. Joe was dominant early. Joe dominated an exchange with Andrade and performed a suicide dive onto him. Joe picked up Mysterio at ringside. Mysterio threw punches at Joe, but Truth dropkicked Joe, who dropped Mysterio over the barricade. [C]
Late in the match, Andrade dropkicked Truth to ringside. Mysterio followed up with a sliding splash onto Truth. Andrade performed a sunset bomb on Mysterio and then rolled him back inside the ring. Zelina took out Truth with a huracanrana from the apron. Carmella superkicked Vega.
[Hour Two] Andrade hoisted up Mysterio, who countered out of it and performed a 619. Mysterio followed up with a frogsplash on Andrade, but Joe performed a senton on top of both men. Joe picked up Andrade, performed a uranage, and scored the pin…
Samoa Joe defeated R-Truth, Rey Mysterio, and Andrade in a four-way to win the U.S. Championship.
Powell’s POV: It’s about damn time. Joe has been consistently great in WWE, but he’s always booked to lose big matches. It’s nice to see him finally get a title belt. And the title change genuinely surprised me, as I thought they would milk out R-Truth’s comedy reign a little longer.
Backstage, Becky Lynch hobbled around on her Tiny Tim crutch while talking with some random guy in a suit… Footage aired of New Day handing out on a street in India… Saxton questioned whether New Day being sent to India has anything to do with what happened last week. Graves said they are respected ambassadors of WWE… Aleister Black made his entrance… [C]
Braxton interviewed Joe backstage and noted that wrestlers were saying Joe couldn’t win the big one. Joe cut her off and said they were not making accusations, they were merely unanswered prayers. Joe said he doesn’t do dance breaks or pander to the masses of the unexceptional. Joe said he doesn’t love John Cena or hustle, loyalty, and respect…
Powell’s POV: Are we getting Joe vs. Cena at WrestleMania? I wouldn’t complain.
3. Ricochet and Aleister Black vs. Sheamus and Cesaro. Before the match, Sheamus and Cesaro delivered a brief promo labeling Ricochet and Black as shiny new toys that don’t measure up to The Bar. This was met with silence from the crowd, which briefly chanted NXT once the bell rang. Cesaro worked over Ricochet heading to an early split-screen break. [C] Black took out Cesaro with a Black Mass kick and then performed a flip dive onto Sheamus. Ricochet performed his 630 splash finisher on Cesaro and pinned him.
Ricochet and Aleister Black beat Sheamus and Cesaro in 5:40.
After the match, Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev attacked Black and Ricochet. Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy made the save and the babyfaces stood tall at the end of the segment…
The broadcast team recapped footage from the opening segment. Daniel Bryan was shown lecturing Rowan backstage while the broadcast team hyped Owens vs. Rowan for later in the show… Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville made their entrance. Philips said Rose would be in action after the break… [C]
4. Mandy Rose (w/Sonya Deville) vs. Naomi. Naomi’s entrance was televised. Naomi performed three moves on Rose, then became distracted by Deville. Rose caught Naomi with a high knee and performed her finishing move for the win.
Mandy Rose defeated Naomi in 0:45.
After the match, Asuka walked onto the stage as Rose and Deville were playing to the fans. Asuka attacked both women and ran them both into the video wall. Naomi smiled from the ring, and then Asuka headed backstage…
Braxton interviewed AJ Styles backstage and asked how he would have handled the situation if her in Kevin Owens’ shoes last week. Styles said you have to take the title opportunities when you can get them, but Kingston was robbed. Styles continued to sing the praises of Kingston until Randy Orton showed up. Orton asked if he was really worried about someone other than him getting a title shot. “Man, I can see why it took you 15 years to get here,” Orton said before walking away… Kevin Owens made his entrance… [C]
Powell’s POV: Rose gets a win going into her title match only to have her ass handed to her by the champion. If nothing else, it’s good to see that Asuka was allowed to get physical despite being helped from the ring on Monday after suffering an injury during a match against Rose. Meanwhile, I saw Styles vs. Orton at the Minneapolis house show on Saturday. It was fine for a live event, but a televised match between the two would likely be at least five times better.
The broadcast team announced Rey Mysterio vs. Andrade for the Fastlane Kickoff Show…
Powell’s POV: Now that’s a Kickoff Show match worth watching.
5. Kevin Owens vs. Rowan. Daniel Bryan sat in on commentary for the match. He said Rowan is his intellectual equal and that’s why they hang out. Owens ended up at ringside. Bryan stood up and insulted him by calling him a lazy coward. Owens attacked Bryan, but Rowan quickly pulled him off and performed a running cross body block on the floor. Bryan threw punches at Owens for the DQ.
Kevin Owens beat Rowan by DQ in 2:00.
The heels continued to work over Bryan after the match. Bryan told Rowan to prep the the broadcast table. Mustafa Ali’s entrance music played and he ran out and dropkicked Bryan, then performed a suicide dive on Rowan, who caught him. Rowan went for a claw slam, but Ali avoided it and performed a huracanrana that drove Rowan into the post. Bryan caught Ali with a flying knee off the apron. Bryan set up to deliver kicks to the face of Ali, but Owens hit Bryan with a Stunner…
Charlotte Flair was shown walking backstage… [C]
Powell’s POV: Ali made his in-ring return at the Minneapolis house show on Saturday. Tonight’s live crowd didn’t give him a strong reaction. We can only wonder how different things would be for Ali right now had an injury not forced him out of the Elimination Chamber, which led to the big push for Kofi Kingston.
Charlotte Flair made her entrance. Once in the ring, a video recapped the final segment from Raw. Flair questioned how she would get her “very best friend” Becky Lynch to come up for a friendly discussion. She encouraged the crowd to chant for Becky, which led to a half-assed chant. Lynch made her entrance using a single crutch.
There was a louder Becky chant. Lynch said that’s the sound you hear when The Man is around. Lynch spoke about being in Flair’s head. She said she knows she’s in Ronda Rousey’s head too because one minute she wants to face her at WrestleMania, and the next minute she’ll do whatever it takes to avoid it. Lynch said Rousey hit her with her absolute best on Raw. “But I’m still here,” Lynch said. “I’m still standing and I’ still ready to fight again.”
Lynch said Flair knows that she’s owned her for months. Another Becky chant broke out. Lynch said the fans know that she beat Flair on one good leg. Lynch said her ribs may be bruised, her arm was nearly broken, and her knee is damaged, but damaged people are the most dangerous because they have nothing left to lose.
Flair kicked Lynch’s crutch away and attacked her. Flair kicked Lynch’s injured ribs, then targeted her injured knee. Flair picked up the crutch and hit Lynch with it. Flair went after the knee again, but Lynch hit her with the crutch and ended up putting Flair in the Disarmher. Two referees ran out and pulled her off Flair. Lynch stood tall in the ring and jawed at Flair, who held her arm to sell Lynch’s finisher.
The broadcast team hyped Lynch vs. Flair, Bryan vs Owens, and the return of The Shield for Fastlane to close the show…
Powell’s POV: A good angle to close the show. It was pretty basic, which is welcome after watching Charlotte, Rousey, and three of the four McMahons appear to turn during the course of the overbooked storyline that is setting up the Triple Threat for WrestleMania. Overall, Smackdown delivered some decent hype for Fastlane, and it was at least a newsworthy show with Samoa Joe winning his first title in WWE. I will have more to say in my weekly Dot Net Members’ exclusive audio review coming up shortly.
Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and Davey Boy Smith Jr. discussing what led to the Hart Foundation vs. Lucha Brothers match at MLW SuperFight getting physical, training at a young age, and much more.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Brian Fritz of Sporting News and Between The Ropes discussing WrestleMania 36, WWE television from the empty WWE Performance Center, his own travel woes, NFL free agency, and more...